Ten Ukrainian children and their families have returned to areas controlled by Kyiv's forces after being under Russian occupation, according to a statement from Ukraine's rights ombudsman, Dmytro Lubinets, on Thursday.

Kyiv has accused Moscow of abducting nearly 20,000 children from eastern and southern Ukraine since the Russian invasion in February 2022. Many other children have been living under Russian control during this time.

“The children and their families were in temporarily occupied territories in the Donetsk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia regions,” Lubinets wrote on the Telegram app.

In late 2022, the Kremlin claimed to have annexed these regions along with the eastern territory of Luhansk.

Photos shared by the Ukrainian ombudsman's office show children with blurred faces playing with colorful toys.


Lubinets mentioned that the children were recovering from the “horrors” they faced, accusing Russian officials of forcing them to attend Russian schools and sing the Russian anthem.

He also mentioned that families felt pressured to acquire Russian passports in order to access essential services such as medical care.

The International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his children's rights commissioner, Maria Lvova-Belova, in connection with these allegations.

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